6 steps will get you started on this new career path
For people who are interested in starting a new career, becoming a medical assistant is one option you might want to consider. Medical assistants are healthcare professionals who play an important role in doctors’ offices and hospitals. They assist doctors and nurses by performing a range of important tasks such as preparing exam rooms, taking patient histories, recording vital signs, and administering injections.
Most medical assistant schools take only one year to complete, which means that next year at this time, you could be starting your new career. Most programs do not require any previous experience, although they do ask that you present a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). Give it some thought, and take a look at these six simple steps:
Step 1: Learn what it means to be a medical assistant
Before making any final decisions, learn more about medical assisting. Would you be comfortable in a medical setting? Do you like the idea of helping patients get the care they need? Read the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s description of Medical Assistants carefully. Or try 5 Things to Know About Becoming a Medical Assistant. Picture yourself doing this sort of job to determine if this is the right career for you.
Step 2: Search for accredited medical assistant schools near you
If you are going to enroll in classes, you want to find a school that is easy to reach from where you live. Do a Google search on medical assistant training in your area. You may find options at your local community college or at private career training schools. You can also try the College Navigator. This tool lets you search by zip code and by program. Be careful about which school you choose. You want to be sure it is an accredited school with an established history of placing students in jobs after graduation. For more advice on finding the right school, see What to Look for in a Career Training School.
Step 3: Take a tour of several schools
There may be more than one option for medical assistant schools where you live. If this is the case, do some comparison shopping. Schedule a visit with several schools, and bring a list of questions. Make sure they accept Federal Financial Aid. Get a feel for the instructors and fellow students. You want to select a school where you will feel comfortable. While you can apply to several schools, do not sign anything formal yet. You are still in the decision stage, and part of your decision may depend on where you get financial aid (see step 4).
Step 4: Apply for financial aid
Next it is time to apply for financial aid. You don’t have to choose a final school yet. You may list several different schools on your financial aid forms, and then see which school offers you the best package. To get started with applying for financial aid, you have to fill out the FAFSA forms online. A few weeks after your FAFSA is submitted, you will hear from the schools about whether they can offer you a financial aid package. This will help you decide which school to attend. For help getting started with FAFSA, see 5 Things to Know about FAFSA.
Step 5: Enroll in your new school
After financial aid matters are taken care of, you are ready to enroll and begin classes. Many private career schools have a rolling admissions policy where new classes start every 6 to 8 weeks. Other schools may require you to wait until a new semester begins in January or September.
Step 6: Attend, study hard, and succeed!
This step is the last step, but it’s the most important. Once you have gotten the courage to enroll in school, don’t spoil this opportunity! Make sure you attend classes every day, make time to do your homework, and study hard for your exams. If you are having trouble, do not give up! Talk to your instructors, and see if you can get extra help or tutoring to keep you on top of your school work. You can do this if you try!
Choosing to begin a new career path is a major decision in your life. We hope this article has helped you understand the steps it takes to start on your way to becoming a professional medical assistant.
This article was provided by the Harris School of Business, with locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware. Our Danbury, CT location is currently seeking students to join our next class of Professional Medical Assistant Plus students. If you live in the Danbury CT region or near any of our eight locations, check us out!